Different Window Valance Styles
Merriam Webster defines a valance as “a short drapery or wood or metal frame used as a decorative heading to conceal the top of curtains and fixtures.” This simple definition is rather misleading. In reality, there are many different styles of valances to choose from. I’ll stick with several popular styles of soft fabric valances -- any of these would be a great addition to your home décor!
Rod Pocket Valance
Rod Pocket valances are the most common and least expensive you can buy. They are the easiest to create because they are made from a straight piece of fabric. The simple design means they’re also quick to install.
Valances Can Solve Problems
- Is your curtain hardware less than attractive? Maybe you feel limited in your curtain choices because you’re fearful the hardware will show. No worries! Use a valance to conceal the offending curtain rod.
- In small houses and apartments, full curtains and drapery panels may seem overwhelming. Bring interest and color in by using valances instead. You get the softness of fabric at the window, but avoid overpowering your room!
- Windows that are awkwardly shaped can benefit from window valances. For example: shorten a tall, narrow window by adding a valance to visually minimize the height.
- Dealing with budget constraints? Valances require much less fabric and labor, so they will cost less than full-length curtain panels.
A rod pocket valance slips onto a standard curtain rod, creating soft gathers of fabric. This valance should measure 1 1/2 to 2 times the length of the rod to allow for ample fullness on your curtain rod.
If your rod pocket valance has box pleat detailing and is designed to lie flat, use the exact measurement of the rod as a guide when purchasing.
Swag valances project a decidedly formal look and are available in a variety of designs. Swag valances are draped arcs of fabric that span the width of a window. Some are designed with a rod pocket for ease of installation.
Custom swag valances are typically board mounted to create intricate folds and pleats. Swag valances can also consist of single lengths of hemmed fabric carefully draped through sconces (brackets) or over a curtain rod.
To make a swag valance even more elegant, consider adding decorative jabots and cascades. You can position pleated or gathered jabots on each end of a large swag to frame a window. Smaller jabots can be placed between multiple swag sections to conceal seams.
Cascades are designed as end pieces with tails that hang down gracefully at each end of a swag valance. They appear to be gently folded and graduate (cascade) in length. Both jabots and cascades often feature contrasting lining fabric within their pleats and folds.
An ascot valance is a “V”, or triangular piece of fabric trimmed with beaded fringe or a tassel. This style of valance can consist of one or several ascot points per treatment, depending on the window width. It is recommended to purchase or fabricate at a ratio of 2 to 1 for optimum fullness across the span of your window.
Roll-up valances are also called stagecoach valances as they resemble the style of curtains used on old West stagecoaches. These simple valances have contrasting fabric on the reverse side and feature a rod sewn into the bottom hem. The valance rolls up onto itself and is secured with two decorative ties on each end.
Most roll-up valances are secured in a fixed “up” position, but can be made to roll down for privacy in the evening. Roll-up valances come in ready-made rod pocket or custom board mounted versions. This is one valance that looks better placed under curtains instead of over them!
What Do You Think About Window Valances?
The name of this valance style describes its appearance. The bottom edge consists of a series of semicircles and is often designed to fit exactly across the window opening, sans gathers. Scalloped valances may feature a rod pocket, rings or can be fabricated for board installation.
This valance style works well in both casual and contemporary rooms, depending on the type of fabric used. To add a bit of understated flair, highlight the scalloped edge with decorative trim. Many ready-made, budget versions feature a gathered rod pocket.
Scarf swags are similar in appearance to swag valances. The main difference is the weight of the fabric. Scarf valances are typically made from sheer material and are hemmed on all four sides to resemble a long, narrow rectangle.
Purchase an extra long scarf valance and install it by draping and swagging it over the width of a curtain rod or through end sconces. You can also purchase shorter “scarf” sections and cover the joined sections with matching fabric rosettes. The tails of the valance should hang down either side of the window frame. For added interest, position the scarf so the tails create an asymmetrical frame.
To fasten your perfectly formed drapes of fabric in place on a curtain rod or through sconces; affix with small pieces of double-sided carpet tape or secure with rubber bands or twist ties. Although scarf valances are lightweight, the long sections of fabric can pull your draping taut if not properly anchored.
I really like this style of window valance. Balloon valances have a whimsical quality and are perfect for a feminine bedroom. They are gathered on a curtain rod and feature a pocket of fabric that can be filled with crumpled tissue paper to enhance the puffy profile. Unstuffed, the balloon valance becomes more serious -- taking on a more elegant air.